Holy Water dropped, other adjustments made to Madonna's R18 show

Madonna peforming at a concert in the Taipei Arena in Taipei, Taiwan.
Madonna peforming at a concert in the Taipei Arena in Taipei, Taiwan. PHOTO: EPA

Madonna will not be allowed to perform the song Holy Water at her first Singapore show at the National Stadium on Feb 28, says the Media Development Authority (MDA).

An MDA spokesman says in a statement: "Madonna's upcoming Rebel Heart Tour concert has been rated R18 as it contains sexually suggestive content which is more suitable for adults. This is reflected in the consumer advice so that the public can make an informed choice.

"In determining the rating, MDA had carefully reviewed the proposed setlist and consulted the Arts Consultative Panel. Religiously sensitive content which breach our guidelines, such as the song Holy Water, will thus not be performed in Singapore.

"The concert organiser must comply with the terms of the licence, which states that the concert should not contain content or materials which offend any race or religion, and that the performance overall must fall within the guidelines of the R18 rating."

According to a statement from Live Nation Lushington, one of the parties involved in arranging the Madonna show for Singapore, "the artiste management and tour management worked closely with MDA on providing show, video and lyric content and the suggested setlist for Singapore".

The North American and European shows in Madonna's current worldwide Rebel Heart tour include a segment in which she performs a medley of Holy Water, a song from her latest album Rebel Heart, and 1990 hit Vogue while scantily clad nuns pole-dance on cross-shaped stripper poles.

Live Nation Lushington's statement adds that the organisers acknowledged the "overtly sexually explicit" and "religious content" deemed unsuitable by MDA .

"Minor adjustments were made to ensure R18 licensing conditions could be met without compromise to the delivery of a first-rate and world-class performance."

However, the statement also stresses that the concert's setlist is not set in stone and that Madonna will have final say in how the show turns out.

"The final running order and setlist for the Singapore performance will be determined by the artiste and revealed at the show itself within the set guidelines."

Besides Singapore, Madonna's other regional stops include Hong Kong, Thailand, Macau and Manila.

In 1993, the 57-year-old American singer's controversial Girlie Show World Tour was banned here when police said her performances in the tour show "border on the obscene... (and are) known to be objectionable to many on moral and religious grounds".

Meanwhile, the first batch of pre-sale tickets went on sale yesterday, available to members of Madonna's Icon Fan Club. Some, like Ms Jasmine Munas, 40, purchased the membership for US$20 (S$41.60) on Wednesday to get access to pre-sale tickets.

Ms Munas said the ticket-buying process on the Sports Hub website was "fast and painless". She adds that "everything was smooth" and the entire process took her less than 10 minutes.

Each Icon Live Pass entitles the buyer to a maximum of four tickets.

Ms Munas, an assistant editor, bought three tickets and will be attending the concert with her family members and a colleague.

She hopes that Madonna will perform more of her old songs. "Either way, I'm very excited because I grew up with her songs," she says.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 08, 2016, with the headline 'Holy Water dropped, other adjustments made to Madonna's R18 show'. Print Edition | Subscribe